Tag Archives: State and local government

Celebrating Our Teachers on World Teachers’ Day!

Teachers of America (and the world), we celebrate you! To commemorate World Teachers’ Day on October 5, I want to share some data about today’s teachers and reflect back on how my own teachers influenced me on my path to become the Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’ll also include quotes from some amazing teachers on what inspires them to teach.

I love seeing my students grow and the excitement in their eyes when they’re learning. Adrienne Davenport, Preschool teacher, Portland, Oregon

I always enjoyed math class, although college-level calculus proved to be a challenge. One of my favorite teachers taught me both geometry and calculus at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut. (Home of the Governors!) What I mostly remember was how patient she was with everyone in the class. She wanted everyone to succeed and went out of her way to make everyone feel special. Hers was the last class of the day, and we’d often stay late just to soak up a little more calculus. I guess geek-dom starts early.

Math is something I like and it’s rewarding for me to be able to show students that math isn’t scary and that they’re smart enough to do it. Nikita Midamba, Math teacher, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I’m not sure I’d ever heard of economics or statistics back in high school, and I certainly had never heard of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But I had a good foundation in math, which I put to use every day. I even got pretty good at using a slide rule (kids, you can search for it on the Internet). But that’s a story for another day.

I love teaching for a lot of reasons. Wanting my students to have more access to opportunities in life is what keeps pushing me. Lydia Shelly, High school math teacher, Glendale, Arizona

Oh, economics. I guess I stumbled onto that in college, and was fortunate to have great professors and interesting topics like labor economics, urban economics, economic history, and even Soviet economics. But the one I remember most fondly was “Economics of the Arts,” which explored movies, theater, music, museums, and more. No wonder I came to work in a city brimming with the arts.

I love teaching, especially beginners. When you see students finally connect with a dance move they’ve been trying for weeks, they get so excited. That’s rewarding. Stephanie Yezek-Jolivet, Dance teacher

Enough of me reminiscing. Now let’s get to the facts. I’m happy to report BLS has lots of data about teachers. Table 1 shows employment, wages, and projected growth for a few teacher categories. Links go to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which provides career information on duties, education and training, pay, and outlook for hundreds of occupations, including, of course, teachers!

Table 1: Employment, projected outlook, and wages for teachers
Occupation Employment, 2016 Employment growth, projected 2016–26 (percent) Employment change, projected 2016–26 Median annual wage, May 2017
Preschool teachers 478,500 10% (Faster than average) 50,100 $28,990
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers 1,565,300 7% (As fast as average) 116,300 $56,900
Middle school teachers 630,300 8% (As fast as average) 47,300 $57,720
High school teachers 1,018,700 8% (As fast as average) 76,800 $59,170
Special education teachers 439,300 8% (As fast as average) 33,300 $58,980
Career and technical education teachers 219,400 4% (Slower than average) 7,700 $55,240
Postsecondary teachers 1,314,400 15% (Much faster than average) 197,800 $76,000
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program and Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

I’ve saved the best for last! Time to drill down and look at some local data. Using data from our Occupational Employment Statistics program, let’s look at the Secondary School Teachers page as an example. Scroll down the page and you will see six maps and charts, which include state and metropolitan area data for employment, concentration of jobs and average wages of secondary school teachers. To highlight some of the data:

  • Where is high school teacher employment?
    • Texas has the highest employment of secondary school teachers (113,120) with California coming in second (107,680).
    • Wyoming is the state with the lowest number of high school teachers (1,860) and Vermont has the second lowest number (2,120).
    • New York-Jersey City-White Plains, New York-New Jersey, Metropolitan area has the most employment (42,350).
  • How do wages differ?
    • Average annual wages of secondary school teachers ranged from the lowest in Oklahoma ($41,880) and South Dakota ($41,980) to the highest in Alaska ($85,420) and New York ($83,360).
    • The highest paid area for secondary school teachers is Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York, Metropolitan Division with an average annual wage of $101,110. The lowest paid area for secondary school teachers is Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona, at $39,590.
  • Where are the highest and lowest concentrations of secondary school teacher jobs?
    • If you look at the employment per thousand jobs, the state of Missouri has the highest number (9.9 teacher jobs for every 1,000 jobs), with Maine (9.6), Texas (9.5) and Ohio (9.4) close behind.
    • On the low end of the scale are Nevada (4.4 teacher jobs for every 1,000 jobs), Washington (4.5) and the District of Columbia (4.6).

To learn more about teacher data available from the Occupational Employment Statistics program, see Education, Training, and Library Occupation Profiles. For a list of all industries and occupations, see the Create Customized Tables function.

Want more information?

Whatever you do in life, you may have a teacher (or two!) to thank for guiding you on your path. So join with me and say, “Thank you teachers for all you do!”

Ensuring Gold-Standard Data in the Eye of a Storm

“Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were the most notable storms of 2017, leaving paths of death and destruction in their wake.”
Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project 2017 summary report

Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project is forecasting the 2018 hurricane season activity (as of May 31) to be average, with 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes expected. Is BLS ready?

How does BLS deal with hurricanes?

Since June starts hurricane season, we want to share with you one example of how last year’s storms affected our data. We present a case study using our national employment survey, the Current Employment Statistics program. This program provides monthly estimates we publish in The Employment Situation—sometimes called the “jobs report.”

We have procedures to address natural disasters. We highlight some of our challenges and how we address them. We do everything possible to provide you with gold-standard data to help you make smart decisions!

2017 Hurricane Destruction

Two major hurricanes—Harvey and Irma—blasted the U.S. mainland in August and September 2017. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands later in September.

  • Harvey first made landfall in Texas on August 25. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared 39 Texas counties eligible for federal disaster assistance after Harvey. Harvey also caused heavy damage in Louisiana.
  • Irma hit the Florida Keys on September 10 and then later hit Florida’s southern coast. FEMA declared 48 Florida counties eligible for federal disaster assistance. Before Irma hit the lower Florida Keys, the hurricane already had caused severe damage in St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico.
  • Hurricane Maria made landfall in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, causing catastrophic damage. These areas already had suffered damage from Hurricane Irma earlier in the month.

Some things to know about the monthly employment survey

The monthly employment survey is a sample of nonfarm businesses and government agencies. The reference period is the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. The sample has just over 23,000 active reporting units in the disaster areas, representing about 6 percent of the entire active sample.

What does it mean to be employed? If the employer pays someone for any part of the reference pay period, that person is counted as employed.

How did BLS collect data in these disaster areas?

Our biggest challenge is to collect representative sample data so we publish high-quality estimates. In the “old days,” the survey was a mail survey (yes, I mean snail mail), but no more! Now we collect data electronically by several different methods. These are the most common:

  • About half the total sample uses electronic data interchange. That’s a centralized electronic data reporting system for multi-establishment firms. The firm provides an electronic file directly from their payroll system to BLS for all establishments included in the report. Most of the firms reporting are outside of the hurricane-affected areas, although they may report on establishments within the affected areas.
  • About 23 percent of establishments use computer-assisted telephone interviews.
  • Another 16 percent report using our Internet Data Collection Facility.

Using these methods, we were able to collect data from most sampled businesses in these areas using normal procedures.

What about the emergency workers working in the disaster areas? How are they counted?

  • We count emergency workers where their employer is located, not where they are working.
  • We don’t count volunteers as employed because they are not paid.
  • Activated National Guard troops are considered active duty military and are outside the scope of the survey.

Did the estimation procedures change?

Once we collect the data from businesses in the affected areas, we consider whether we need to change our estimation procedures to adjust for missing data. The survey staff determined that we didn’t need to change our methods because the collection rates in the affected areas were within normal ranges.

How did the hurricanes affect national employment data for September 2017?

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma reduced the estimate of national payroll employment for September 2017. We can’t measure the effects precisely because the survey is not designed to isolate the effects of catastrophic events. National nonfarm employment changed little (+14,000) in September 2017, after increasing by an average of 189,000 per month over the prior 12 months. A steep employment decline in food services and drinking places and below-trend growth in some industries likely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

What about Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands?

National nonfarm employment estimates do not include Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Because of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could not conduct normal data collection for their establishment surveys. The September estimates for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were delayed. The October and November estimates for the Virgin Islands also were delayed. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands eventually were able to produce estimates for September, October, and November 2017.

Want more information?

For more information on the impact of Harvey, Irma, and Maria, check out these pages:

What else does BLS know about hurricanes?

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages produces maps of businesses and employment in flood zones for states on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts that are vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storm. You can read more about those maps in another recent blog.

We hope the 2018 hurricane season won’t bring the loss of life and destruction of property that we saw in 2017. Regardless of what the season brings, BLS will be ready to continue providing gold-standard data about the labor market and economy.

BLS Big Data Delivers Hurricane Flood Zone Maps

Information is key to preparing for a natural disaster. That’s why we have updated our maps of businesses and employment in flood zones for states on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts that are vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms.

These maps combine data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Geological Survey. The result is high-resolution graphics for every county with hurricane flood zones along or inland from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages is our “Big Data” program. It gathers data from 9.9 million reports that almost every employer in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands files each quarter. We have been producing maps of businesses and employment in disaster areas since 2001, when we created zip code maps and tables of Lower Manhattan. We began mapping hurricane zones in 2014, combining BLS data with flood zones created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state emergency management agencies.

These maps are one way we use Big Data to create new products without increasing the burden on our respondents. Within BLS, we use these maps for research into the data collection and economic effects of a storm. We also provide these maps to state labor market information offices to use for their statistical analysis and emergency response.

Hurricane maps highlight how we use emerging technologies. We create these maps with open source mapping software, part of our open data practices that make it easier for decision makers to get and use the data.

This isn’t our only example of matching Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data with data from other federal agencies to deliver new insights. We have matched our data with publicly available Internal Revenue Service data to measure employment and wages in nonprofit organizations. We also are working with our colleagues at the Bureau of Economic Analysis to improve understanding of foreign direct investment in the United States. When these data become available, users can analyze employment and wages by industry and occupation in firms with and without foreign direct investment.

All of these efforts improve the quality and breadth of information available for decision makers. If you have ideas about other partnerships with our Big Data team, please send us a message or give us a call!

Reaching out to Stakeholders—and Steakholders—in Philadelphia

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has staff around the country who serve several critical roles:

  • Contacting employers and households to collect the vital economic information published by BLS
  • Working with partners in the states who also collect and review economic data
  • Analyzing and publishing regional, state, and local data and providing information to a wide variety of stakeholders

To expand the network of local stakeholders who are familiar with and use BLS data to help make good decisions, the BLS regional offices sponsor periodic Data User Conferences. The BLS office in Philadelphia recently held such an event, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

These Data User Conferences typically bring together experts from several broad topic areas. In Philadelphia, participants heard about trends in productivity measures; a mash-up of information on a single occupation—truck drivers—that shows the range of data available (pay and benefits, occupational requirements, and workplace safety); and an analysis of declines in labor force participation.

Typically, these events provide a mix of national and local data and try to include some timely local information. The Philadelphia conference included references to the recent Super Bowl victory by the Philadelphia Eagles and showed how to use the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator to compare buying power between 1960 (the last time the Eagles won the NFL Championship) and today.

We also tried to develop a cheesesteak index, a Philadelphia staple. Using data from the February 2018 Consumer Price Index, we can find the change in the price of cheesesteak ingredients over the past year.

Ingredient Change in Consumer Price Index, February 2017 to February 2018
White bread 2.5 percent decrease
Beef and veal 2.1 percent increase
Fresh vegetables 2.1 percent increase
Cheese and related products 0.8 percent decrease

Image of a Philadelphia cheesesteak

These data are for the nation as a whole and are available monthly. Consumer price data are also available for many metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia. These local data are typically available every other month and do not provide as much detail as the national data.

While the Data User Conferences focus on providing information, we also remind attendees the information is only available thanks to the voluntary cooperation of employers and households. The people who attend the conferences can help us produce gold standard data by cooperating with our data-collection efforts. In return we remind them we always have “live” economists available in their local BLS information office to answer questions by phone or email or help them find data quickly.

Although yet another Nor’easter storm was approaching, the recent Philadelphia Data User Conference included an enthusiastic audience who asked good questions and left with a greater understanding of BLS statistics. The next stop on the Data User Conference tour is Atlanta, later this year. Keep an eye on the BLS Southeast Regional Office webpage for more information.

Celebrating 75 Years of BLS Regional Offices

World War II had a significant impact on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1942, the Office of Price Administration asked BLS to help them understand what was going on with prices and price controls. Price controls? Remember, this was during World War II and there was significant government intervention in markets. Shortly after that, the National War Labor Board asked BLS to conduct surveys and evaluate wage rate increases. These two projects showed the need for local information, not just national averages. Why am I writing about events from World War II? Well, the growing need for local data led BLS to create our regional offices, and we recently celebrated their 75th anniversary. I want to tell you a little about these offices and their rich history.

Today, BLS staff throughout the country collect price and wage data and more. As you can imagine, the uses of these data and the methods for collecting them have changed significantly. Our regional offices collect survey data, work closely with our state partners, and help people find and understand the information they need.

Survey data collection has changed significantly from the 1940s. Today our regional staff throughout the country work with survey respondents to make it as easy as possible to provide accurate information. Modern technology makes it easier to respond to our surveys, but even more important is the close relationships our regional staff have with survey respondents. That high-touch, high-tech approach has proven successful and helped us achieve high response rates.

BLS has a long history of working with states. We wrote about this unique and important partnership back in 2016. Our regional staff work closely with their state colleagues to provide data that are timely, accurate, and relevant to the local economy. We are proud of our partnership with the states.

Finally, each regional office has a small staff of economists dedicated to providing information to the public. These Economic Analysis and Information staff write news releases and other reports that focus on local data. The staff support our data collection efforts through outreach to local business communities and associations. The staff also provide information to people and businesses who use data to make important decisions.

What started as a way to provide analysis on government price controls and wage increases has evolved and blossomed into an integral part of BLS. The pioneering staff from our past and the dedicated staff of today allow us to produce gold standard economic statistics.

Congratulations to the BLS regional offices staff on 75 years of excellent service to the nation!